Blogging A-Z R Is For The Great Rappahannock Snow Battle

This snow battle won’t make it into Rain Crow as the book will probably end sometime at the end of 1861, but if there is a second or third book, I will surely find a way for Lorena or Baron to be present.

During the winter of 1862-1863 the snow fell particularly deep and moist in the Fredericksburg, VA area at the Rappahannock Academy where 10,000 Confederate troops were camped. Back-to-back snowstorms might be considered a disaster to some, but that February, they furnished ammunition for grand, and meticulously planned snow battles.

Eight inches fell on February 19. Two days later, nine inches fell. On February 25, it was sunny with mild temperatures, which softened the snow cover and made for idea snowball making weather.

War was declared.

General Hoke’s North Carolinas determined to take Colonel Stiles Georgia camp. The attacking force of infantry, cavalry, and skirmishers, were guided by officers in strategic battle maneuvers. Battle lines formed and a severe pelting commenced. Reinforcements arrived to assist the brigade under attack and even the commissary staff joined in to help push back the foul invaders.

Hoke’s Georgia boys retreated to their camp, seemingly beaten. Colonel Stiles held a war council to devise a plan on the best way to defeat his enemy. They decided to march directly into camp and take it by force. To their dismay, Hoke’s boys had filled their haversacks with snowballs as well as piled them up, so they had no need to “reload” with ammunition.

The attacking force was quickly defeated and many of their soldiers “whitewashed” with snow. Captured prisoners were paroled back to their leaders with much hoorahing.

Stonewall Jackson and staff watched the battle from a nearby mound and one more than one soldier remarked they wished for them to join in so they could snowball the “old faded uniforms.”

Several other major snowball battles took place during the war, but Rappahannock was noted for it’s sheer size, strategy, and amount of snow.

Here is an interesting link of a first hand account of the battle.


  1. All that snow…It reminds me in a small, small, small way of a movie called ‘La guerre des Tuques’. They say in it: ‘War, war, it’s not a reason to hurt each other’ (roughly translated ;). Definitely didn’t know they had snow battles between soldiers in 1862!

  2. Ha! What a great quote. Yes, there were several big snow battles during the Civil War. What amuses me is the thought and strategy that went into them. Can you imagine ten thousand men involved in a great snow fight complete with cavalry, buglers, skirmish lines?

    Thank you so much for coming by.

  3. Are you kidding me? I had NO IDEA this ever occurred during the Civil War. Obviously it became less civil, but this leaves a remarkable image in your head, ten thousand troops winging snowballs at one another!

  4. Well, it was between Confederate troops, but there were several great snow battles between different brigades. Yes, can you even wrap your head around ten, thousand troops being forming to march up to a camp and then letting fly with snowballs?

    Sometimes Union and Confederate lines were so close they could call out to each other. They’d call a temporary truce and swap things one or the other were low on.

  5. That’s a lot of snowfall for February in VA! I agree–it must have been an awesome sight to see 10,000 troops waging a snowball fight. Cool! 🙂

  6. I have fallen way behind in my reading this week – it was migraine week. I love reading your research. This is such wonderful imagery. Snow has a sort of magic to it anyhow whether peaceful or not. Fantastic stuff.

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